Thinking about a Career in Investment Banking?

Is it the prestige? The rapid career progression? The responsibility? Or could it possibly be the six figure salary that’s made you fancy yourself as the next hot shot city banker?

Whatever the attraction, if you’re thinking a career in banking might be for you, finding an internship is a sure-fire way of helping your chances of succeeding in the City.

The good news is that internships these days are not just for penultimate year students.  There are now opportunities with most banks for first years and final years (if you’re planning to study for a masters that is).

The even better news is that you’re not too late to apply for next summer BUT you do need to get your skates on – most of the deadlines are in December or January.  Take a look at a list my colleague has complied for the deadline dates.

Earlier this month, I met with a number of graduate recruiters from leading investment banks.  They shared with me a few of their top tips to think about when applying for an internship.  Here goes:

More applications do not equal more interviews.  Don’t fall into the trap of rushing lots of applications to every single bank, keeping all your fingers and toes crossed that you’ll surely be successful somewhere – you probably won’t.

Application forms take time (one recruiter told me they think each application should take as long as two days to complete!?!).  Recruiters want you to make the effort. Think about exactly what they’re looking for, why you would fit their requirements and convince them why you want an internship with their bank, over and above all the others. (they also said they can tell when you copy & paste – so don’t do it!)

Instead of applying anywhere and everywhere, target three or four banks that really appeal to you before putting finger to keyboard.   It’ll be time better spent.

Investment banking is not just one role.  You don’t have to be a trader! There are many different divisions – Global Capital Markets, Sales & Trading, Research & Strategy, Structuring, Operations, and Technology to name a few.

Recruiters want to see applications from interns focused on a specific division – don’t hedge your bets by applying to different areas.  Again, do your research and pick the division that you feel is most suited to you and your strengths. For example, if you’re good with numbers and making quick decisions – sales & trading might be the way forward.  If you’re a confident communicator and can plan ahead, then operations could be where your future lies.

All banks produce recruitment brochures and have comprehensive websites that provide detailed information about the different roles available.  They’re trying to make your life easier, so don’t forget to read them!

Any degree is welcomed. Don’t assume you will be at a disadvantage if you are not studying for a business or finance degree. Banking internships are open to all students on track for a 2.1, with a strong interest in finance and banking.  The recruiters I spoke with emphasised that they want to hire interns that can talk passionately about something they have achieved outside of University life.

Last but not least,

Don’t forget the basics. Spelling and Grammar.  Poor spelling and grammar is the biggest complaint from recruiters and is a guaranteed way of getting your application thrown straight into the bin.  Use a spell checker, get a friend to look over it for you and even better bring it into the careers service for a quick query session – no excuses.

Stick to the word limit.  Don’t waffle – get straight to the point.  Ensure you answer all parts of every question and gauge the length of your answer by the word limit or the size of text box.

When answering competency based questions, choose examples from different areas of your life and be specific.  Remember to use the Car Model – Context, Action, Result – when structuring your answers.

For more info, check out:

Efinancial careers

Target jobs

Inside careers

Internships and placements

Oh, and don’t forget the banks own websites.  They’re a great source of information.

Good luck!


2 Responses to Thinking about a Career in Investment Banking?

  1. Great article! Particularly your point regarding how one should target their applications, rather than falling into the copy/paste trap.

    Further to these valuable ideas, we also put together a an article on our blog which may also help Man Uni students/grads looking for a career in Investment Banking. The blog includes a video interview with Rick Sopher, Managing Director of LCF Rothschild Asset Management. He gives some great tips for grads.

  2. And here’s a link –

    All the best for 2011, everyone!

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